Losers are Winners too

Drop Kick – former Richmond great


That’s it; I have had enough of all the Outer-flank and TV-pocket players sinking the boot into Richmond like they are your most hated high school teacher. If this goes on much longer the sherrin will be dead flat by Round 16 and what do you think that will do to our attempts to chip the ball sideways and backwards to stall yet another team from ragdolling us around the dance floor like a deflated sex doll?

Before I sink the boot in much further myself, my credentials:

Half back flank for two of our greatest seasons; 1973-4, two games, didn’t get a kick, no handballs, in fact I didn’t get close enough to the leather to even smell it. Look, what can I say, the little league was a cutthroat competition in those days: 100 players on the list for 20 places on game day, you do the maths.

But it is oh so easy for those picked on the Outer-flank and TV-pocket to criticize. We all know how good you all are: never dropped a sitter, unless it was some brown gunk out the side of your meat pie; never missed a shot on goal, unless you count the times you were too lubricated to even make it back to the marital goal square.

Being the ultimate players, who have never made a mistake, who single handedly got your team over the line in every game, won every grand final of every year, and who use grand final cups as vases, sinks and hats because they wouldn’t all fit in the house otherwise. Well, I have a question for you.

What is the one thing every premiership team needs for the ultimate success? Great players, fitness, team work, luck, money? No!

What they all need most is another team who are prepared to work just as hard as them and be the losers on the day. To be really great they need another really great team. In fact they need 17 other teams prepared to work just as hard and not taste the elation of success.

And this is where Richmond comes in. We have been an integral part of every premiership team for over 100 years. Without us (and the other teams who didn’t win) there would be no premiership team. Without us there would have been no great Brisbane, Geelong and Hawthorn sides of recent times. We deserve a gold medal for services to footy and the community.

And that is why I would like to propose that we all work together to hound the AFL (knitting) commission to introduce a new prize, a new honour to take its place alongside the premiership cup and Brownlow medal: The Richmond premiership cup for the team that comes 9th.

It would remind all of us that losers are winners too, and that without losers there are no winners. Every great pack mark requires a stooge or 3 to have their shoulders stood on and the back of their heads caved in. Every astonishing baulk requires a player to look as agile as a lame walrus. And every premiership team needs another team to fertilize our hallowed MCG turf with the bitter tears of disappointment and defeat.

I would also like to see the premiership cup first held up by the captains of both teams on the dais as used to happen in the past. Perhaps the losing captain should present it to the winning captain. The winning captain can hold up his side of the cup with a feeling of exultation and pride. The losing captain can hold up his side of the cup with sorrow but also pride to honour the sacrifice and effort of not just his team on the day but also to honour the other 16 teams without whose dedication and effort all year winning the cup would mean nothing.

I may have not touched the ball once in my 2 years with the Richmond little league team and I have no idea who won the premiership that year in our competition, but I never felt like a loser. I learned how to play the game and developed the skills to forge a school boy football career. And in my last year at school we won the premiership.

That was in 1982 but that year I learned something much more important than winning. After football season we had athletics and on our intra-school athletics day I watched the open 110 metres hurdles. From the start of the race it was between two boys. One had the grace of a drunk giraffe and somehow managed to flail over each hurdle, but he was fast.

His opponent had the grace of a ballet dancer that could only have been gained by hours of practice. As the ballet dancer approached the last hurdle he had drawn ahead by 6 inches, he could see victory ahead, and a smile broke out on his intensely concentrating face, and then, and then, ……his trailing foot clipped the last hurdle. He lost just enough speed for the drunken giraffe to scramble past him for victory.

As I looked at the ballet dancers despair I had an epiphany: Winning involves making someone else feel like a loser. In that moment my understanding of competitive sport changed forever. I realised that winning was not about me, if I won. It was about all the others who had not won. I understood what humility in victory really means: respecting your opponents for the effort they have put in. Because without them you are, and have, nothing.

I lost my taste for competitive sport that day on our high school oval. Since then I have stuck to surfing where I have no opponents, just the ocean who creates beautiful waves for me to dance with.

But I have returned to watching football and I love watching my team Richmond play. Sure I am waiting for the tigers to win their next premiership and the long wait will make it all the more sweeter. I don’t mind playing on the Outer-flank or TV-pocket where bruise free footy is acceptable. And I don’t mind when we lose. It is the thrill of the contest, the amazing feats of skill, courage and team work, by both teams, that keeps me watching.

And if Richmond comes 9th and wins another “Richmond premiership” I will be a little disappointed to miss out on the finals again, but you will not hear me bagging out our players. It is hard enough tasting the bitterness of losing without someone on the Outer-flank or TV-pocket putting you down just because other players and teams have outplayed you. I mean, I couldn’t get a kick in two seasons of little league so who am I to judge ANY players.

It is too easy to judge and condemn players and teams just because another player and team outplays them. The truth is every player at every club could out play all of us on the Outer-flank and TV-pocket. Every great mark, every amazing baulk, every goal, every win, and every premiership. needs a stooge and a loser to happen.

We all know that AFL football is the greatest ball sport in human history and we should remember why: because every player and team is prepared to train and play their guts out and lose. Every winner needs a loser to be a winner. So at this year’s grand final I shall applaud the losing side as much as the winning side and I will applaud my team Richmond and all the players regardless of where we finish up on the ladder because losers are the secret ingredient every winner needs. Losers are winners too.


Drop Kick


p.s. Will you people stop taking up surfing and stealing my waves, stay where you are on the Outer-flank and TV-pocket where you won’t get nibbled by a shark. And before you protest, yes, I do own the ocean, my father gave it to me for Christmas in 1972 along with my first surfboard.



  1. Cat from the Country says

    Nice sentiments Drop Kick.
    All my friends expected me to be inconsolable after our horrific loss to Sydney last week.
    Well I left the game early for the first time ever. (My excuse was needing a taxi; in Sydney after a ball game it is a real waiting game!)
    That was my silent protest. Not that it makes any difference.
    We made Sydney look better than I believe they are. Next week is a new game and I gave already moved on

  2. Drop KIck says

    Thank you Cat from the Country, glad you enjoyed it

  3. Perhaps a trophy for the best, fairest and most creative loss of the season. Your boys against North yesterday for half time faint (not feint) would be hard to toss. Cats against Sydney for 120 minutes lack of effort? My Eagles for consistently flattering to deceive? The Dogs are long time losers (I mean winners of this prestigious award).
    Perhaps it could be the Bob Rose Cup? A champion bloke who spread the ‘almost’ message across several clubs.
    Well played Drop Kick. Us losers are winners in my book.

  4. Ken Richards says

    Fine sentiments Drop Kick, I too remember the days when the Grand Final loser was also honoured even in defeat. To win, another team must lose – be it gallant, abject or unlucky in defeat. Once upon a time, that sacrifice was valued. Guernseys were swapped, and runner-up medals were presented. But in today’s dog-eat-dog world, the winner takes it all and the devil takes the hindmost. Too often, the winner fails to understand that their success stands on the shoulders of others who have put them at the summit. Those whose shoulders that do the supporting might reflect on the value their own effort. It too is worthy of respect. Perhaps Peter Moore could retrieve his runner-up medal, cast aside after a 3rd bitter defeat, or Nathan Buckley could pull his Norm Smith Medal from his sock and both could wear them with pride. After all, the air is rarefied indeed on the summit. Not many of us get so far as to say ‘I almost made it’.

  5. Drop Kick says

    Thanks for the responses Ken and Peter B.

    I have a couple of difficulties with this site. How do I make my profile photo show on my comments and posts, and, how do I get CAPTCHA working. I would ask the site administrators but I need CAPTCHA working to do that.

    Nick (aka Drop Kick, or currently; Stumped)

  6. Drop Kick says

    Yes, the photo is working now. great. Now just CAPTCHA?

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